Thai Meatballs

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My house is in total entertainment mode in the month of December. There are lots of fun ways to entertain around the holidays. Having finger foods is a plus to keep guests’, appetites satisfied. Having the traditional cheese boards or pigs in a blanket is fine but being a little more creative stands out. These little guys are perfect, Thai meatballs are super easy to make as well. The flavors these meatballs pack will leave your guests wanting more. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs of mixed ground meat, veal and pork
Salt & Pepper, to taste
3 tsp sesame oil
1-2 Tbs onion powder
3 Garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 cups Thai peanut sauce( homemade or store bought)
Sesame seeds for garnish, optional
Cilantro, chopped for garnish optional

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 400 F degrees In a medium bowl mix all the ingredients besides Thai peanut sauce. Form golf size balls or smaller.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. Half way through shake the pan a bit. Once done toss the sauce with meatballs place back in oven for 2-3 minutes.

Place on serving dish and top with sesame seeds and cilantro.

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South Beach Wine and Food Festival

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The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE is pleased to announce its upcoming program of events.  The 14th annual Festival, taking place February 19-22, 2015, consists of more than 75 events during the four-day, star-studded gourmet gathering, featuring new parties and talent alongside a noticeable refresh of the Festival’s most signature tastings.  As it has since its inception, the Festival benefits the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management’s Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory and Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center at Florida International University. 

“This is surely a year that our loyal fans will do a double-take at the program and new attendees will find plenty of events to choose from,” predicts Festival Founder & Director Lee Brian Schrager, who also serves as Vice President of Corporate Communications & National Events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.  “We have made significant changes to upgrade the experience at our signature Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village and are taking our beloved event, The Q, to the next level by partnering with Meatopia.” 

 The Festival kicks off on Thursday, February 19 with Ronzoni Pasta’s 100th Anniversary  “Al Fresco Feast” sponsored by MIAMI magazine hosted by Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos, a celebration of pasta and all forms of Italian-American cuisine under the Festival’s signature white tents in the sand behind South Beach’s iconic Delano.  These same sparkling white sands will be the foundation for the brand new version of the Festival’s treasured celebration of all things grilled, braised and barbecued as Meatopia: The Q Revolution presented by Creekstone Farms hosted by Guy Fieri curated by Josh Ozersky on Saturday, February 21.  

The Festival is taking significant strides in 2015 to upgrade its landmark Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations.  While enjoying samplings from a seemingly endless variety of restaurants and wine and spirits brands from the Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida portfolio, attendees will notice key advancements to the beachside venue which spans from 10th Street to 13th Street off Ocean Drive.  Changes include more seating and shaded areas, live music and DJs, select ‘park and ride’ offerings (at no additional cost), and the introduction of chef Culinary Captains who will represent cohorts of chefs from various neighborhoods throughout South Florida. 

 New events taking place throughout the 2015 Festival include:

  • Poolside Paella Party hosted by José Andrés
  • Tacos After Dark hosted by Aarón Sánchez
  • Empanada & Wine Happy Hour
  • A rooftop ice cream and chocolate party with Candace Nelson of the Beverly Hills based Sprinkles Cupcakes, who is known for catching the taste buds of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey
  • Tribute to the resurgence of tiki culture mixology during a late-night, poolside bartender competition hosted by Emeril Lagasse
  • A late-night spiced up soirée centered around Caribbean-jerk hosted by cookbook author, chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay
  • Dessert done South Beach-style by modern day Willy Wonka and Cronut™ inventor Dominique Ansel
  • Plus an unprecedented series of intimate and unique dinner experiences featuring world-renowned culinary talent!

 Fan favorite events such as the Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Schweid & Sons hosted by Rachael Ray, Fontainebleau Miami Beach presents Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best sponsored by Bank of America & Merrill Lynch, Fun and Fit as a Family featuring Goya Kidz Kitchen, YogArt presents Buddhas and Bellinis, Bank of America Lifestyle Seminars, Wine Spectator Wine Seminars, Goya Foods’ Swine & Wine hosted by Marc Forgione, and more will return, sure to satiate every type of budget and palate.

Loews Miami Beach, the Festival’s host hotel, will again host the annual Tribute Dinner sponsored by Bank of America; part of The New York Times Dinner Series. The 2015 Festival will honor Chef Juan Mari Arzak, the acclaimed pioneer of Basque cuisine, and Ted Baseler, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. 

 Stay up-to-date with the excitement by following the Festival at www.Facebook.com/SOBEWFF or follow Founder and Director Lee Brian Schrager at www.twitter.com/Lee_Schrager.    

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan glaze

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Holidays are in full effect. I have been testing lots of recipes. This was a huge hit on my thanksgiving table this year. I love a good New York cheesecake but wanted to try creating a pumpkin cheesecake with a pecan glaze. If you’re planning on bringing anything special to a holiday party or even if you just want to have something sweet at home, this is the perfect dessert. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Filling:
3 (8oz) packages cream cheese
1 (15oz) can pumpkin purée
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch salt

Pecan glaze:

1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cups pecans, chopped and some whole
1/3 cup maple syrup

Crust preparation:

2 cups Keebler graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoons sugar

Crust preparation:

In a medium bowl toss together crumbs, butter and sugar. Pour the mixture in a 9 inch springform pan. Press down and to the sides of the pan. Chill for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin cheesecake preparation:

In a large bowl with an electric mixer  beat the cream cheese on medium to high speed until smooth and fluffy. Next slowly add the eggs one at a time. Add in the pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk and maple syrup. Now add the pumpkin spice, nutmeg and salt. Beat the mixture for about 3-4 minutes until well incorporated. Pour the pumpkin mixture into crust.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until nearly set, but jiggles a bit in the center. Cool for 1 hour. Chill  for 6 hours or overnight.

Pecan Glaze:

In a small saucepan on medium to low heat take heavy cream and maple syrup and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t overflow. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until sauce becomes thickened. Add pecans and stir. Place to the side to cool. Once set pour on top of cheesecake.

Kerrygold USA Charcuterie platter

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We all love to indulge around the holidays or maybe even on a date night.  Super excited to have partners up with one of my favorite cheese brands Kerrygold USA.  One of the things my husband and I love to do is create cheese/meat boards, for ourselves or guests.  We enjoy them with either wine or beer. Creating a board can be so much fun. Below I will give you ideas on some Kerrygold cheeses and plating.  I hope you enjoy.

Lets start with the Cheeses. You want to have as least 3 to 5 types of cheese. Depending on how big your board/canvas will be or how many people you will be entertaining.

Kerrygold Dubliner with Irish stout: . The classic flavor combination brings out the sweet, nutty, rich flavor of Dubliner Cheese and swirls and tumbles it together with the malty, caramel, bitter flavor of a perfect pint of Irish Stout.

Kerrygold Aged Cheddar with Irish Whiskey: rich and creamy Aged Cheddar now has unique undertones of the smooth, woody and nutty taste of pure Irish Whiskey. Entrenched in the history and traditions of Ireland, Cheddar and whiskey are now together in one spirited Irish grass-fed cow’s milk cheese.

Kerrygold Aged Cheddar: a pasteurized, grass-fed cow’s milk cheese that is aged for one year and undergoes a stringent grading process as it matures. Only the best-tasting cheese makes it through, resulting in a Cheddar that is rich and full-bodied with a smooth finish.

Kerrygold Blarney Castle:  a mild and creamy cow’s milk cheese with rich and velvety undertones. It both feels and tastes similar to a young Dutch Gouda cheese and makes a perfect complement to fresh fruit and a glass of crisp wine, like Sauvignon Blanc.

Kerrygold Dubliner: a robust aged cow’s milk cheese with a bit of a hard texture similar to a Cheddar. In one bite you can taste the diversity of flavors – from nutty to sharp to sweet – that can only come from a natural cheese made from the milk of grass-fed cows.

Nuts and Meats: To add that additional saltiness to the board I like cuts of meat like prosciutto and salami. Also the nuts work great as well.  Some favorites of mine are pecans and almonds.

Breads and Crackers: Who doesn’t love bread and cheese? Adding that starch is a great way to enjoy different cheeses. Get creative and wrap some prosciutto to some bread sticks.

Fresh Fruits: Adding some color to the board with fruit is another delicious component.  From strawberries to grapes, fruit pairs beautifully with cheese. You can also enjoy dried fruits as well.

Serving:

Cutting Board: These aren’t just made for cutting your fruits and veggies.  Using different kinds of cutting boards to serve your cheese can make the presentation look amazing.
Chalk board: This is another great  option.  Getting creative is key when serving a cheese board.  You can head to the dollar store or to an office store. I actually found my chalk board at target.  The chalk board is great to label your cheese.

Separate Knives: Make sure you have a different knife or small spoon for each cheese.

Remove Cheese: Remember to take out the cheeses 30 minutes to an hour before serving.  The cold mutes the flavors of the cheese.

Last but not least: Have fun when creating. Try different things, you will be surprised at what you may like.

Roasted Veggies

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Roasting vegetables is probably one of my family’s favorite ways to enjoy eating vegetables. Thanksgiving is fast approaching so why not add a different kind of side to the table. You can get very creative on the medleys you would like to roast. I love tossing my veggies with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and of course some rosemary and thyme to the mix. Brussels sprouts are in season. I love roasting these guys with pretty much anything or alone. Roasting veggies are also great in making soup. Roasting is pretty simple and easy. Hope you enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds of Brussels sprouts
1 small butternut squash, cubed
Salt & pepper, to taste
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1-2 sprigs of rosemary or thyme, optional (both if desired)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off buttons of Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Place in a large bowl.

Next cut up butternut squash into cubes (you can also buy cubed and prepped butternut squash at supermarket). Place in the bowl with Brussels sprouts.

Toss seasonings, olive oil, veggies and garlic together in the bowl. Take a baking sheet and roast for 30 to 35 minutes until tender and golden crisp color.  Move veggies around about half way through.

Serve immediately when done.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

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The Soft pretzel is a Philly thing and we love it here. There have been so many different types of pretzels created, from stuffed to sweet. But there is nothing like a homemade warm pretzel. Making pretzels can be a family activity. My kids enjoyed making and playing with the dough. This is a super easy recipe to follow. You can use this recipe to create any kind of pretzel from bite size to braids or traditional. Top with salt, leave it plain or add cinnamon and sugar. The dough and crust turned out perfect. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups warm water, 110 to 115 degrees
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 package Active dry yeast
1 ½ tsp Salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
4 ½ All Purpose Flour
12 cups of Water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil
Egg Wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp of water)
1/3 cup Baking Soda
Kosher Salt or Cinnamon and Sugar, optional

Preparation:
In a large bowl add the water sugar and salt, mix and then add yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes or until the yeast begins to foam.
Add flour and butter and turn the mixer to low and mix until everything is combined( if you don’t have a mixer use a spatula). Turn the speed up to medium to knead for about 5 to 7 minutes or until you have a smooth dough (Use a clean surface to knead if you don’t have electric mixer).

Next brush the bottom and sides of a large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the oiled bowl. Cover and let it rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven 450 degrees, take 2 baking sheets and place parchment paper on top. Spray or brush oil on the parchment paper.

Add the water and baking soda to a large pot on medium heat and let the water come to a rolling boil.

Now that the dough has risen it’s time to have fun and create pretzels.  Cut dough into 12 equal pieces, roll each piece into a rope and make a U shape, then press the ends of the rope at the bottom of the U shape and pinch the ends. That’s the traditional pretzel. But feel free to make but sizes or braids. Place your pretzels onto oiled parchment paper atop of baking sheet.

Carefully place the pretzels into boiling water for 30 seconds, 1 to 2 at a time. Remove from boiling water with a flat spatula and put them back on the oiled parchment paper lined baking sheets. Once pretzels have all been boiled brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle each one with desired topping.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until deeply golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes on cooking rack.

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Hard Rock Cafe

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My husband’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to take him somewhere where even the kids could enjoy dinner. I decided to take him to Hard Rock Cafe in center city Philadelphia.  Since my husband is a musician and author, I knew that he would enjoy being there.

The service and staff were very friendly. Our waiter was very informed on what was a must try on the menu. We started with a  BALSAMIC TOMATO BRUSCHETTA.  It was so flavorful that my kids were wanting more. Next came time to order the main course. My husband ordered a delicious salmon platter with a mushroom sauce and steamed broccoli with a side of mashed potato.  I ordered the fried shrimp platter. The shrimp were fresh and the batter was light not over breaded. It came with a side of citrus coleslaw, seasoned fries and spicy cocktail sauce.  We loved every bite.

The drinks were on point. we enjoyed some waboritas and watermelonRitas. The kids enjoyed their dinners too. My daughter had pasta with marinara sauce and a side of veggies and my son had chicken tenders with veggies.

The last part of course is always the best… dessert. We got a big fudge brownie bowl to share and sing happy birthday to our special guy.

Hard rock isn’t just about the great food and drinks but it has a great atmosphere. They have a couple different artist outfits and guitars around the restaurant. Also get entertained by music videos playing though out the place, and their gift shop is a place you must at least browse. Hard Rock Philly can even host your next office/gathering party in the back room.

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Grape Adventure “Wine and Food Festival”

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Six Flags Great Adventure to Host Fifth-Annual

‘Grape Adventure’ Wine and Food Festival

What:       

The region’s most unique wine festival, Six Flags Grape Adventure, offers guests a special opportunity to sample local wines, food and gifts partnered with a V.I.P. safari experience that includes giraffe feeding Nov. 8 and 9, 2014.

The festival features 14 New Jersey vineyards with nearly 150 locally-produced wines for sampling, handcrafted gifts from local artisans and an array of dishes from specialty food truck vendors. Visitors can purchase an upgraded safari package which includes a private tour of the 350-acre safari, a special wine tasting at Camp Aventura with a view of African plains animals including giraffes, zebras, Ankoli cattle, kudu, springbuck, gnu and more, plus an unforgettable, face-to-face giraffe feeding experience.

The fifth-annual event follows the official ending of the 2014 Great Adventure season, and the theme park is not operational during this event.

Where:      

Six Flags Great Adventure, 1 Six Flags Blvd., Jackson, NJ 08527

Enter via main park entrance on Rt. 537 West. Parking is free.

When:        

Saturday and Sunday, November 8 and 9, from 12 to 5 pm

Safari Package (includes tours and tastings) available from 11 am to 3 pm

Participating Wineries:       

Tomasello Winery           

Sharrott Winery

Valenzano Winery           

Working Dog Winery

4JG’s Winery               

Belleview Winery

Wagonhouse Winery           

Plagido’s Winery

DiMatteo Vineyard           

Coda Rossa Vineyard

Cava Winery                

Cedarvale Winery

Auburn Road Vineyard       

Renault Winery

Advance Tickets:     

Several packages are available for purchase in advance online at www.sixflags.com/greatadventure with promo code WINE (valid Season Pass required at entry for Season Pass Tickets).

Wine Event Online: $19.99

Wine Event Online – Season Pass Holder: $14.99

Wine Event & Safari Package Online: $39.99

Wine Event & Safari Package Online – Season Pass Holder: $29.99

Info:        

For more information, visit www.sixflags.com/greatadventure or call 732-928-2000.

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Pepto-Bismol Partners with Six Flags to Bring Fright Fest

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Living in Philadelphia, one of the things I enjoyed as a young teenager was heading over to Six Flags Great Adventure for all the awesome rides that it has to offer.  But Six Flags doesn’t just give you the fun rides it gives you entertainment as well for the whole family. Now with Halloween being upon us this weekend the Fright Fest at Six Flags is in full swing.  Bring out all those scary monsters and zombies.  The park literally transforms with ghouls jumping out from everywhere.

The hubby and I got to experience the fun, thanks to Pepto-Bismol for the invite. The partnership between Six Flags and Pepto-Bismol along side with the hosts of the new Spike TV show Frankenfood, Chef Josh Capon and Tony Luke Jr., created a crazy but tasty combination item that is sure to blow your mind its The Frank’n Bacon Funnel Dog will be available at select Six Flags parks beginning Saturday, October 11. So as you eat this tasty crazy dogs you will probably need some relief after going on some roller coasters and spinning upside down. Don’t panic the pepto copter is there to save you. All you have to do is “Tweet for Relief” at the first sign of stomach trouble and have Pepto-Bismol deliver on demand via the Peptocopter street team during designated times throughout the promotional period.  How great is that.

Fright Fest is definitely a favorite of our family.  There is fun for the whole family during the day the park is kid friendly with magic shows and some trick or treating on some of the trails and seeing some of the charcters handing out candy.  But as night time falls six flags turns into a scary thrill like I mentioned.

Triomphe Restaurant NYC

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As I mentioned in my previous post my assistant and I were in New York 2 weeks ago for the Food Network wine and food festival. We had the pleasure of staying at Iroquois hotel right in Midtown Manhattan. The hotel was amazing but the star of the hotel is its fine dining at their restaurant Triomphe.  My mouth is still watering thinking about the delicious dinner we had.  Hands down probably one of the best meals I have ever had.  We had reservations for 7pm.  We arrived a couple minutes early and decided to have a drink at the bar while waiting to be seated.  We were greeted at the bar by the manager.  The restaurant is modern chic seating about 45 people. The staff is super friendly. 

When it was time for us to be seated we entered a dining area separated from the bar.  Our waiter arrived and was super nice. We began our dinner with some bubbly prosecco. As we started to look at the menu we were amazed at how many delicious options there were.  I couldn’t even make up my mind. I decided to ask our waiter what was the chef’s top dishes.  What he recommended? 

The waiter began our meal adventure with a small scoop of fresh ricotta (that was still warm) and smear of beet puree and a small toasted piece of bread. We went ahead and started with 2 small platters and soup. First up a slow roasted beet napoleon which was a goat cheese tuile and black garlic sauce  and porcini crusted jumbo sea scallops on top of sweet potato pancakes. Following was the creamy harlequin soup which was mushroom cream and kabocha squash.  Is your mouth watering yet? (haha)

Next up the main course. Our mouths were already exploding with such amazing flavors that we didn’t think it could get any better.  The dishes came out and the plating was absolutely divine. I’m all about the plating. I ordered the Maine lobster Vol- Au- Vent which was puff pastry shell cremini mushrooms tarragon -cognac cream. I didn’t want this dish to end.  My assistant ordered Meyer “Local Harvest” beef wellington which was crispy crust, foie gras, mushroom duxelle and roasted baby carrots to perfection.

We were so full at this point but we couldn’t pass up the coffee and dessert. I’m a big fan of dessert so I couldn’t wait to see what was in store.  I ordered the crème brulee trio which was 3 flavours of crème brulee lemon, orange and traditional. My assistant got a gelato dessert which were served with 4 different scoops of gelato. 

I will definitely be coming back to this restaurant to try out different dishes. Chef Wehrli my hats off to you. Triomphe is very lucky to have you as their chef.  If you are ever in New York City and not sure where to dine this is a must visit restaurant.  Visit them here Triomphe  

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